W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 2000

A Call to Arms(?)

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000 06:57:50 -0700
Message-ID: <394B83DE.D644CEC0@gorge.net>
To: mediatalk@onelist.com, webwatch@telelists.com, dd-confcall@egroups.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org, jerrysorphans@aol.com
Two NYT headline descriptors today:

"Without one disapproving vote, the Senate passed a final
bill...allowing sign[ing of] contracts online with a click of a mouse."

"Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. is developing an Internet-based...
system that will link truck and rail shipments at the click of a mouse."

Those of us working on training Web designers to provide accessibility
often recommend as an exercise hiding the mouse in order to emphasize
the importance of keyboard/alternate operations. Both of the above
stories refer to undertakings that are very likely to be easily made
accessible to PWDs and not the retrofitting nightmare we sometimes face.
But it's not clear if their designers had accessibility concerns in mind
during their processes. 

Here the significant things are whether we could have had any input to
these sorts of landmark decisions by means of Scott's suggestion for
some "yet another consortium" of technologists/DRMers or whether
effective awareness of the fact that there are people who are (could
be?) a very effective part of society if their inability to use a mouse
weren't some kind of major liability.

W3C has been in the forefront of standards-setting for the systems that
promulgate the protocols used in all these efforts. The members who work
on these matters are commited to accessibility, in most cases. Yet...

Could it be that the attitudinal prejudices against PWDs are so
deep-seated that only a complete rebirth of "we're all in this
together..." is a prerequisite for these kinds of innovations to be
inclusive in nature?

The mediatalk list members try to achieve this by influencing newsfolks
to, through heightened awareness/sensitivity, make the common language
lead in the desired direction: get away from "confined to a wheelchair";
skip playing the pity card; command recognition of the untapped talent
in the "disability community"; etc. Not just political correctness but
simple humanity acknowledgement.

The "Jerry's Orphans" are attacking the same problem by focusing on the
peculiar outpouring of pity/guilt called the "telethon" in which
organizations and individuals with a history of not hiring/respecting 
PWDs profess concern by pledging money to fund (mostly non-disabled)
researchers working towards evasive "cures" while the "victims" are
useful mainly as "poster children" to make the donations larger.

Groups like Justice for All and ADAPT move in the political arena
supporting things from demanding a statue of FDR in a wheelchair at his
memorial to getting people out of institutions and into the community.

As in most "wars" this one has certain "choke points" through which the
"enemy" must pass. The Web is clearly such. Anything that affects the
what/how of Webstuff, particularly the tools used to create/decipher it
are extremely important targets.

Posting to and learning from the Web must not be restricted to TABs. Any
use of this medium must be undertaken with inclusion paramount.
"Everyone, everything connected" must prevail. Brotherhood isn't perfect
but the Cain/Abel thing and sociopathy can be overcome - particularly as
we realize that we are all members of one another.

Received on Saturday, 17 June 2000 09:58:17 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 20:35:56 UTC